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Sherlock Holmes (2009)

  • Okay. So Lord Blackwood fakes his own death. He rigs the tomb ahead of time to make it look like he burst out of it from the inside. He used all kinds of Victorian tech to pull off his "spooky magical powers", most of the tech invented or perfected by the "ginger midget," who Blackwood offs afterwards, probably to cover his tracks. All so far, so good. So. Why in the hell did Blackwood put the body of the ginger midget in his coffin? If you're going to fake your own resurrection, have an empty coffin. If you're going to kill a subordinate, chuck him in the Thames. Why put someone unusual in the coffin that would a.> attract attention, b.> not add to the spooky vibe and c.> beg to be followed up? Especially as he must know Holmes would follow up in the first place, as Holmes was the one who arrested him. So why throw such a huge bone to Holmes?
    • It did add to the spooky vibe. Recall the gravekeeper, who took it as a sign, "And when the dead walk, the living will fill these coffins." And it was part of the ritual Holmes outlines, as well.
    • The only reason the midget stood out to Holmes and Watson was because Irene hired Holmes to search for him. Otherwise he would have just been an anonymous victim.
  • If everything that was supposed to be magical in the movie was really phony "industrial revoloution tech" (radios phooey!) then what was the point of showing Holmes going into a trance and contacting Blackwood when he does so? Was that sequence all in his head?
    • I suspect it was all part of getting into Blackwood's mindset; for all his cynical 'conjuring tricks', Blackwood clearly believes in his own bullshit, so Holmes is endeavouring to see the world through Blackwood's eyes as part of 'widening his gaze'.
      • Plus he's "self-medicating."
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    • He also needed to consider how the other members of Blackwood's secret society would view his "magic". If they weren't caught up in their own mythology, they too could have deduced that it was all trickery and derailed the guy's agenda. Holmes couldn't be sure what sort of Batman Gambit Blackwood was pulling on his own brethren unless he explored their mystical mode of thought, confirming they would be that gulible.
    • Finally, is a common trick for misguiding the audience into thinking that something supernatural is happening at last, and Holmes need to explore it.
    • Not to mention the fact that, by superimposing the ritual diagram with the map Holmes found out where is the actual terrorist attack supposed to happen...?
      • Well, if Blackwood wanted his minions to believe he has magic powers he needs to play by the rules, e.g. observing proper rituals before unleashing his tech.
  • Similarly, why hatch a plan in which at least two things depend on it raining on the correct night? Even with the jokes we've all heard about English weather, all it would take would be one dry night at the wrong time and he'd be in real trouble.
    • Blackwood's plan hinges on him getting arrested and cheating the gallows, and Holmes notes that the crime he was arrested for was 'a fingerpainting' in comparison to his earlier efforts. Presumably Blackwood made a point of getting arrested during a season where it was likely to be raining frequently. Note how pretty much every shot of sky in the movie is gloomy and overcast.
      • on a side note: We learn that Blackwood already killed 5 girls, in the pattern of a pentagram. Holmes catches him before he can kill the sixth. but killing six girls would have broken his carefully planned pattern, so Blackwood was obviously very sure that Holmes would catch him and set his scheme in motion.
    • Of course every shot of the sky is gloomy and overcast. It takes place in England. I spent a semester there, and we saw the sun maybe four times; even when it wasn't raining, it was nearly always overcast and slightly damp. There's a reason for all the jokes: England really does have weather like that.
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    • "Is it November?" Holmes asks at one point. Even given the above point about Britain's usual rainy weather, October / November — when Blackwood was arrested, tried and executed — is a season in which it is particularly likely to rain.
    • Worst case scenario: He bribes someone to pour water on his grave if it fails to rain.
      • Ooh, Fridge Brilliance — with this back-up in place, a dry night would make it even more difficult to figure out how the trick was done, because there'd be no apparent reason for the glue binding the rock together to dissolve. Thus strengthening Blackwood's apparent Dark Messiah mystique.
    • Also, the offing of Standish benefited from the rain, but it quite likely wasn't slavishly dependent on it. The American Ambassador was pretty clearly fixated on other matters, and even without the water the spray could've been taken as some draining or plumbing system, or something else more mundane rather than rain. Probably unusual that you'd be sprayed by it and something that Standish would've noted... for all of two or three minutes before he learns about the Coup in the group and Blackwood starts egging him on by planning to levy war on his homeland. Even in the unlikely even it wasn't raining that night, Standish would've needed to notice the water hitting him and care enough about it to get rid of it in the five or so minutes before he went in to face Blackwood (which led to him burning himself to death). Or alternatively would have required Standish to not fall for the Berserk Button bait that Blackwood laid for him and that he fell for. All of which are spectacularly unlikely even factoring in that liquid being the only stuff pouring from the sky at the time.
    • If it wasn't raining, they would have found some other way to douse Standish in flammable liquid, and probably would have had a back-up in play somehow. It's not like Blackwood isn't already playing a long-game here, he probably has some kind of contingencies set up.
  • How did Watson - an experienced medical doctor - certify as dead a 'corpse' that, after supposedly being hanged, displayed no rope-marks or burns on the neck, whose neck was not broken and who would still have had a pulse? I can accept the rest of the setup of the 'fake' hanging as described, just not an independant and unbribed doctor certifying as dead a body which plainly had not suffered death by hanging...
    • I believe the drug he took explicitly slowed the heartbeat such that it wouldn't register as a pulse. Watson's examination, if I remember correctly, amounted to checking his heartbeat and breathing and as far as he was concerned, someone whose heart wasn't beating (noticeably) and who didn't seem to be breathing was dead.
    • Blackwood was wearing an outfit that had a high collar which covered his neck. Since he couldn't find a pulse, and never really took Blackwood's declaration that he would come back from the dead seriously, Watson didn't bother to roll Blackwood's collar down all the way to do a further investigation. He didn't think it was possible for someone to survive being hanged, so in his mind there was no reason to look for further evidence of someone's death once he had confirmed that there was no pulse.
    • Never mind how Watson could've missed the signs. Why didn't his apparent corpse get dissected rather than buried? Handing convicts over to the medical schools after hanging was standard practice for executions at the time, and his body would've been especially prized because he'd been healthier than your average street thug.
    • Blackwood still had contacts in the government who were in on the plot, like Coward- presumably, one of them pulled strings to make sure he was buried.
    • Plus, he's Lord Blackwood. Britain is at this point still a society dominated by hereditary aristocrats and the like; it probably wouldn't be too hard to make sure that he got buried instead of cut up by impressing his aristocratic origins, despite his crimes. The respect for aristocracy was enough to grant him a honorable burial in the family crypt, unlike ordinary convicts of the Victorian Age which were buried in lime on the prison grounds.
      • Actually, Blackwood's title is a Headscratcher in itself, as he's an illegitimate son and shouldn't have had any actual claim to a title.
      • You could earn peerage by your own merits even in the 19th century - or in Blackwood's case, probably by having a few friendly people in the House of Lords telling Queen Vicky what a nice chap he is, and how he should have a title despite of the misfortune of his illegitimate birth.
      • I assumed that, though he was actually the illegitimate son of, er, whatever his name was, his mother was the wife of - and, to the world at large, his father actually was - the late elder Lord Blackwood. (There is a British aristocratic clan of Scottish origin with the surname Blackwood, but in the 19th century they were part of the Irish Peerage.)
      • In any case, he couldn't have shared the title with his biological father; he would only have become Lord after the previous holder of the title died or passed it forward. Under normal circumstances there's only one Peer in a family at a time.
      • It's implied that the previous Lord Blackwood is no longer with us and that Blackwood had something to do with it ("If the rest of his family's dead, how long do you expect to survive? Food for thought!"), which probably explains why he got his title.
    • In any event, Lord Blackwood's burial at consecrated grounds is incredibly suspect. The details as to when and how he broke out and switched bodies aside, Blackwood would have never been given a proper burial. He was a convicted murderer and warlock, after all.
      • As noted above, though, he was also a wealthy aristocrat who was more than willing to throw around a lot of cash to ensure what he wanted to happen happened. Money's gotten worse people better deals.
  • Holmes, being who he is, is able to uncover the mystery surrounding Blackwood's mysterious power. Okay. But how does he even know the circumstances of Ambassador Standish's (the American guy's) death? Who would have informed him that Standish had pulled the trigger on Blackwood and then burst into flames? (His finding out would have to take place before he was arrested, as during Holmes' manufactured ritual he ponders the death of Standish.)
    • Wasn't there a newspaper with the headline "Ambassador Standish Killed by Hellfire"?
      • Even if we didn't see it (I can't remember), the death of the American Ambassador would probably make the papers, and Blackwood would certainly see to it that people were made aware that he did it with his funky awesome supernatural powers.
    • It's likely Lestrade handled that case and told Holmes about it. Holmes being Holmes, he would have asked for all the details. That the man's gun was missing one bullet would have jumped out to him.
      • Yet Holmes somehow knows that the compound that caused Standish's death was "the same as [the one used in the port], burned with an unusual, pinkish hue." I don't see that reaching the public. His deductions on Standish are a bit of a stretch.
      • Everyone is screaming about how Blackwood is using his devil-powers to seize control of the land; you think the reports of his death are going to omit the fact that the 'hellfire' that struck down the American Ambassador of all people burned an unusual colour? If nothing else, it's in Blackwood's interest to make sure that details like that are circulated; the more that the more unusual facts of the case are disseminated, the more it looks like Blackwood is an all-powerful sorcerer rather than just a con man who's good at planning and has a chemist on his payroll, which is ultimately all that he is.
      • He doesn't get the color from knowing how Standish burned. He observes the ingredients at the laboratory, realizes they were the same ones at the wharf, then deduces that since the ginger midget had made the compound for Blackwood, and since Standish died by fire, that he must have used that same compound.
  • Did we ever find out how Lord Blackwood seemingly mind-controlled the girl at the beginning of the movie into nearly stabbing herself?
    • Drugs, presumably.
      • Opium derivates were widespread in Victorian Britain and used for most real or imaginary illnesses. At some point, even Bram Stoker used (rather ironically) the appetite of patients and doctors for Laudanum as a plot device that left the victims sleeping and vulnerable.
    • Possibly some form of suggestion or hypnosis while we're at it.
    • Or she was being payed off too. Make a few quid, become a media darling for a few days, not bad for a nights work.
      • Although Watson does note that she 'needs a hospital' when they're rescuing her; presumably even if she was a stooge she was in for more than she bargained for.
    • Maybe Blackwood put out an ad. "Need five young, capable women for religious rite. Must not be averse to tasteful nudity or death by cardiac trauma. Consumption voids applicancy. Applications will be accepted at 223A Baker Street, guest password is 'Swordfish'. Fifteen pounds sterling to be paid to the family of all fully-completed roles."
      • Figures Sherlock Holmes would have a hand in creating Craigs List.
  • Just how does one traverse through the sewers of Parliament and reach the top of Tower Bridge in just a few minutes? Don't answer that. It wasn't really a question.
  • If the Home Secretary is a high ranking member of Blackwood's order, and head of the British police, wouldn't that Lestrade isn't actually part of his organisation? I suppose it's fair enough for a secret society, though.
    • I assume that it's a Masonic thing; I seem to recall that being a Freemason was all but essential for career advancement in the British police during the Victorian era.
    • Alternatively; Lestrade's faking it as part of the con they're running on the Home Secretary.
      • Or maybe on the whole group, just in case.
      • I thought that was the question. If Lestrade's faking, shouldn't the Home Secretary know about it? He was in charge of the Police and would presumably have met Lestrade in person on official business at least once. He should know that he either was or was not a member of the secret society at night.
      • The Home Secretary wouldn't meet every single police inspector face-to-face, and for all we know there's an extensive hierarchy to the order which would prevent Lestrade and the Home Secretary encountering each other in person. Like the Freemasons in real life, the society here is probably quite extensive.
      • Good ole' human nature - Lestrade had known Holmes for years and always got his help (it's revealed in A Study In Scarlet, set in 1886), so he owed him enough favor and also trusted him blindly. If your old friend Holmes said your boss is part of a murderous plot, you'd rather believe him and help him bring things to a reasonable end.
  • If it's November 1891, shouldn't Sherlock be in hiding? Clearly the new films use some canon from the stories, since he knows Irene Adler, so is there any way to know what's canon for the films and what isn't, or where the timeline breaks off?
    • Since Holmes is only just introduced to the existence of Moriarty at the end of the movie, it's fair to assume that the timeline in this movie is a little behind the original canon.
    • Or maybe it's actually November 1890?
    • It says 1890 on the back cover of the DVD ... However, I have no explanation other than laziness as to why the papers in the movie itself say 1891.
    • Or the movie is just in an Alternate Continuity. There's no reason why the movie should fit in with the books. Just as an example, no one demands to know how the Batman films fit in with the comics, do they? Same here.
      • It is an Alternate Continuity, as in this Holmes meets Mary as Watson's fiancée, as opposed to her coming to him as a client in The Sign of Four.
  • The Case of the Disappeared Watson. Condensed: Irene flees the scene, Holmes runs after her, Watson stays behind and knocks out Dredger, Lord Blackwood hurries down (to the sewers?) under Parliament, spots Holmes chasing Irene, and goes after them. When Blackwood catches up with Irene and Holmes on the Tower Bridge, he has Watson's cane. How the heck did he get Watson's cane? Also, when Moriarty nabbed the wireless device from the machine, where was Watson? You could perhaps say he was still stuck under Dredger, but somehow I doubt either of the aforementioned gentlemen would have a problem killing him while he was down. Heck, I can see Blackwood doing it to (unwisely) screw with Holmes.
    • I've heard there's a deleted scene or something where Blackwood nicks Watson's cane, but I don't know the details. As for where he was when Moriarty grabbed the device, well, Blackwood, Holmes, and Adler are both able bodied people who can run and climb stairs quickly. Watson, seeing as he gets around with a cane, isn't.

      Let's presume he got up and tried to stop Blackwood from pursuing Holmes. Blackwood knocks him over, but doesn't have time to finish him so he just grabs the sword cane and runs after Holmes and Adler. While Holmes, Adler, and Blackwood are running through the sewers and up to that scaffolding, Watson has to get up and hobble after them without the help of his cane. Moriarty would've had plenty of opportunity to to grab the device while Adler, Holmes, and Blackwood were occupied on the scaffolding and Watson was busy trying to climb the stairs.
      • Actually, Watson mainly carries his cane as a memento of his army days in Afghanistan, and, aside from a seasonal ache, is pretty able-bodied in both books and film. Also it was a fairly common practice for British gentlemen in of that era to carry a walking stick.
      • Moriarty has no part in this. When Clarky comes to Holmes in the end, he tells of a dead constable, whose body was found in the morning, and the police "believed he was the first man on the scene." There were probably at least a few hours' time between the protagonists leaving the sewers and the police getting there, when Moriarty nicked his bit without meeting anyone else than the unfortunate constable.
  • So, Blackwood killed Standish by soaking him in a flammable liquid, disguised as spraying it all over the courtyard of the Order's headquarters. They better hope nobody lights up for a smoke around there before it's washed off by actual rain.
    • The place just happened to get a washing the next day. Alternately, the stuff isn't volatile while dry.
    • It's raining pretty heavily all around when Standish enters the building, and there's only a comparatively small amount coming from that hose above the door. Presumably the rain washed it all away.
    • Which begs another question: If Standish had happened to bring an umbrella along that evening, to keep himself dry until he got inside and then leave at the entryway, would Blackwood have died of the gunshot with a dumbfounded look on his face, wondering why the guy hadn't burst into flames?
      • No, because part of the plot apparently involved replacing the bullets in Standish's revolver with blanks, explaining why Blackwood doesn't get shot in the first place.
      • So Blackwood would've had to make do with claiming he was magically protected from bullets, instead of making everyone think he can make people burst into flames?
      • Blackwood has people on the inside of the American Ambassador's household and staff giving him information on his routines and habits, and enacting his plans for him accordingly. In short, he knows enough about the Ambassador to know he does not routinely carry or use an umbrella in the rain, and plans accordingly. If the Ambassador carried an umbrella, he'd just plan around it.
  • So, Watson...kinda got an explosion to the face. Why is he still alive? I like Watson, but he was pretty much at ground zero (so to speak). It should have done more than cause him to need a sling on his arm. I mean we all saw his British ass tossed about like a rag doll, flames everywhere, and if not for the noise probably would have heard him scream like a bitch too (very ungentlemanly I'll say that much) and yet he lived. How is that possible?
    • They're right at the edge of the riverfront when the bomb goes off; it's possible that the explosion by chance hurled him into the water, and he managed to remain conscious long enough to get himself out of it.
    • Alternatively, when we last see him before the explosion obscures him he seems to be leaping for some cover between what appear to be some kind of stones or barrels or such; perhaps they shielded him from the worst of the explosion?
    • That, unfortunately, doesn't explain the multiple shrapnel wounds that Watson (and for that matter,ALL of them) would have being that close to multiple powerful explosions. And let's not forget the hearing loss and traumatic brain injuries that would result from being less than five feet from several explosions. And why wasn't anybody burned?
      • It's explicitly stated that Watson, at least, had to have a lot of shrapnel dug out of him. The hearing loss is presumably represented by the muffling of the sound of the explosion. As for why it's not permanent or why Watson, Holmes and Irene aren't suffering from permanent brain damage, I think we're probably going to have to chalk that up to Acceptable Breaks from Reality and Willing Suspension of Disbelief.
  • A very minor example here. When Holmes, Irene and Watson are all in the small building near the end, Holmes has his shirt on. Then, in a scene taking place a short while later, still in that same building, he has taken the shirt off and is running around in a t-shirt with his suspenders showing. WHERE DID HIS SHIRT GO? WHY DID IT LEAVE? IT MAKES NO SENSE AT ALL.... I mean, if it was because it was hot out you'd expect a removal of a jacket from someone else or something, and Holmes doesn't seem the type to just randomly decide to get shirtless—I mean, less shirted...
    • IIRC Holmes is running around being very wired and hyper-active at that point, he's moving and talking very quickly and animatedly, and is still kind of coming down from what seems to have been a bit of a psychedelic experience; could be that he just overheated and decided to remove his shirt.
  • Okay, Lord Blackwood guessed in advance that Ambassador Standish would try to shoot him once he'd told Standish his plan, so he sprinkled him with flammable liquid. That's fair enough; predicting Standish's reaction in advance wasn't that difficult, and even if Standish had decided not to shoot rather than join the conspiracy, that would've served Blackwood's plan as well. And if Standish would not have shot Blackwood rather than fled the scene, I guess Blackwood had some backup plan how to make him burst into flames anyway. But my question is: how did Blackwood know Standish's bullet wasn't gonna kill him? Even if Standish bursted into flames the second he pulled the trigger, the bullet should've left the gun anyway. So why didn't the bullet hit Blackwood, and how did Blackwood know it wouldn't?
    • It wasn't a real bullet. It was effectively a blank, just a black powder charge designed to set off a spark. There was no solid bullet to come out of the gun. Holmes explains this during the summation.
      • I want to know what Blackwood would have done if Standish had pulled a knife?
      • Impossible. Knives were and are thug weapons. A 19th century man born and educated in the upper class had very slim chances to even know how to use a knife - it was either firearm or sword, no middle ground. Given Blackwood had known Standish for some time and also knew his temper and habits, he could safely predict what would happen.
      • Fair enough, although I admit, I wasn't expecting a serious answer. That still makes a lot sense. So what if Standish had pulled a sword on him?
      • ... A worthy enigma, Pinky. Although a sword would presumably be a lot more conspicuous than a concealed firearm, and I'm pretty sure that even in the nineteenth century the British police didn't exactly look kindly on people walking around with bloody great swords; plus, swords seem a bit more... European than guns. I dunno what the likelihood of the American ambassador owning a sword over a gun would be, but presumably Blackwood worked on that assumption.
      • If Standish had brandished a sword, Blackwood would have unsheathed his own sword and engaged in a spectacular duel, and caused sparks to fly from the clashing blades, instantly setting Standish alight.
      • Blackwood doesn't need to work on assumptions. He controls people that know Standish personally, so he would know that Standish does not, in fact, have a sword.
      • Furthermore, you would expect an American to carry a pistol instead of a sword.
  • A small thing, I guess, but why do Holmes and Watson have a dog? It's not in any way canon, nor in any real sense practical. For those who will argue about Watson mentioning a dog in "A Study in Scarlet", I'm afraid you're incorrect. Watson says he "keep[s] a bull pup." This is period slang for the fact that he has kept his army revolver - a somewhat unusual characteristic in that day and age. So, either [a language failure or just threw it in to try to create wider audience appeal.
    • It's hardly as cut and dried as you make it, Watson first mentions the 'bull pup' as the top of his list of faults that would make him a bad room-mate...and whereas keeping a dog might be seen as undesirable, why would anyone in Victorian England complain about a former army doctor keeping a gun? And also there's no real evidence that the term 'bull-pup' was used for revolvers before 1900. [1]. The other non-canine explanation given for the 'bull-pup' was that it was slang for a quick temper, but there is no sign of Watson ever showing this, he is more noted for his calmness in the face of Holmes' many eccentricities. So it's likely that 'bull-pup' is literally a dog..and Doyle simply forgot about it like he forgot about a lot of things including Watson's first name and the location of his wound. And there is a dog mentioned in Study In Scarlet which Holmes' used to test a poison on.
      • Plus, a literary analysis of Conan Doyle's works shows that every time Doyle used the word 'Bull-pup' in other contexts, he literally meant a dog.
      • And Holmes himself didn't mention that he kept a firearm (which he does) when he listed his own bad-roommate qualities. If keeping a gun was potentially objectionable, you'd think the more thorough and exacting of the two men would've thought to mention it first.
    • In any case, regardless of whether a pet dog at 221b Baker Street is canonical - would it really constitute a head-scratcher that the writer of the film decide to include one? Why wouldn't Holmes (or Watson, or Mrs. Hudson or whoever it belongs to) own a dog? Anyway, the dog gag is presumably inspired by the terrier-poisoning incident in A Study In Scarlet.
  • Blackwood intends for the gas to be released at Big Ben's twelfth chime. So why does he need the first-of-its-kind radio transmitter and receiver to trigger the machine when a simple clock would have done the trick?
    • Because he wanted to be in direct control of it.
      • But why does he want to be in direct control of it? The only thing he does, or indeed ever intends to do, with that direct control is to do something that a much cheaper, easier and more reliable solution would have done just as well.
      • The man wants to control the whole country and the world. Control is his whole thing. His whole plot is his attempt to guide and control everything around him. Him wanting to be the one to push the button on the final stroke is just an extension of his control freak tendencies.
      • Also... why wouldn't he want to be in direct control of it? Presumably the kind of person who's set up this complex scheme to take control of the country is also the same kind of person who gets off on being the one to actually flip the switch. Given the lengths he's gone, just leaving it to an alarm clock or an underling is... kind of underwhelming.
    • He couldn't count on the Parliament members necessarily all being in position at exactly the right moment. He'd like to set off the gas at exactly 12 o' clock for theatricality's sake, but if there's a delay in the proceedings, he needs to be able to delay what he's doing until all the intended targets are in one room.
  • Blackwood's plan to take over Britain can't work. Even if he wipes out all of Parliament except the men loyal to him, it can't work. Queen Victoria would hold the power to appoint the new Prime Minister, and while it would be traditional to pick whoever the majority of Parliament picks for the job, it's not a legal requirement and I doubt very much if she would do so if he only had a majority because he killed everyone who opposed him. Furthermore, if she wanted, she could simply issue a royal writ calling a new election, which would automatically cause Parliament to dissolve (that law wasn't changed until 2011). The police and military forces, meanwhile, are loyal to the monarch as Head of State, and wouldn't answer to the Home Secretary if his orders contradicted theirs. Any way you slice it, killing Parliament wouldn't actually accomplish anything, beyond publicly identifying the survivors as Blackwood's co-conspirators.
    • When you start wholesale murdering half of parliament, you're not really concerned about every bit of legal minutiae involved in actually taking power. Also, did you miss the part where he's trying to make it look like he's an all-powerful sorcerer? The whole plan hinges on people not acting rationally, but on them being so afraid of the unknown that they're intimidated into going along with Blackwood's agenda rather than do the right thing and properly investigate.
  • What was the goal of murdering the five women whose deaths Blackwood was hanged for? His plan hardly hinged on him faking his own death, so getting "killed" isn't much of a motive.
    • Yes, it did hinge on him coming back from the dead. That's the first public thing he does to incite a panic, and "inciting a panic" is the whole backbone of his plan. The initial wave of murders was to paint himself as a powerful sorcerer.
    • Moreover, a sorcerer who comes back if you kill him. The biggest potential hitch in Blackwood's plans, so far as he could anticipate any, would be if somebody — maybe a co-conspirator, maybe a policeman too honest to back off when the Home Secretary said to, maybe a vengeful relative of one of his victims — attacked him when he didn't have any of his tricks set up in advance to deflect them. Letting himself be hanged and then "resurrecting", as well as burning alive a man who had tried to shoot him, served the secondary function of convincing people it'd be both futile and suicidal to assassinate Britain's new sorcerer-tyrant.
    • Don't forget that Blackwood needs his allies in the Order, and their political influence, since he has none of his own. All the faked magic was, at the same time, intended to frighten the masses, and impress the members of the Order so they follow him. Plus, if Blackwood hadn't gotten them on his side, someone might decide to deal with "the sorcerer" using magic, and would likely succeed.
      • To quibble slightly, they probably wouldn't succeed 'with magic', since there's no evidence that magic actually works in this universe. They would, however, have probably succeeded with almost any other method of murder that could be used.
  • If the movie is set in 1891, why is the Civil War still going on? Alternate history?
    • It isn't; the ambassador says America is weakened after its recent Civil War. Calling 25 years "recent" is still pushing it, though.
      • Perhaps, but only in the fact that 25 years is a fair amount of time. Something many people tend to forget is that the Civil War's shadow loomed long and far for almost a century after it happened and certainly it dominated North-South relations until the early 20th century. "Recent" in this case isn't so much a matter of time rather than a matter of MINDSET, and considering that as late as 1917 (with the revelation of the Zimmerman telegram blowing that plan to hell) Berlin still thought it had a reasonable chance of using the North-South divide to pull apart American unity in a clash against the German Empire in the near future, it's safe to say that in 1891 the Civil War was still very much a weakening influence on the US.
      • The US (and England for that matter) went through the worst depression prior to the Great Depression following the Civil War. It took quite a while to dig out of the hole of the Civil War.
      • Given that its been over a hundred years since the Civil War and some people, both in the North and South still can't seem to get over it, I can see how this is plausible. (Confederate History Month anyone...)
      • Conan Doyle was writing for a British readership, and the film's creators played along with that viewpoint. By British-historian standards, every event in American history is "recent".
      • Even so the United States was hardly 'weakened' at that point. By 1891 the U.S was well on it's way to becoming a fairly powerful state.
      • Presumably by 'weakened', Blackwood means 'still affected by internal divisions' rather than 'militarily or economically weak'; while the Civil War was over and the United States was becoming a powerhouse, the Reconstruction era (which ended in 1877, just over ten years before the events of the movie — which is fairly 'recent') did leave lingering tensions and bitterness between North and South, which may have been what Blackwood was referring to. As for why he referenced the Civil War, Blackwood probably isn't interested in the distinction, while in the meta-sense the filmmakers may have been simplifying.
      • Perhaps most importantly, it should be remembered that Lord Blackwood is arrogant and myopic. A lot of Old World aristocratic types did not take the US seriously until well after they should have.
      • It's worth noting that the United Kingdom had a pretty big stake in the US Civil War, and was far more involved in it than is generally known. Essentially, the war caused a disruption in the world's cotton supply, making British cotton—most notably, that grown in Australia—a very valuable commodity. The UK tried to quietly support the Confederacy to keep prices high; and that support very nearly lead to war with the Russia, then a US ally (in fact, fear of Russian invasion lead to the fortification of a number of Australian seaports). The last CSA military unit to surrender after the war was the Confederate Navy cruiser Shenandoah, which actually sailed halfway around the world to surrender in the ship's honorary home port, Liverpool. It's not entirely unexpected that the political and economic ramifications of the war might still feel just as fresh to a number of powerful Brits as it does to many Americans—even 25 years later.
      • Some historical events are just that big and shaking that, to those who lived through them, they still seem "recent" no matter how long ago they were. As an example, this particular response is being written almost twenty years since 9/11, and yet I daresay many people who remember it — this troper included — would find it hard not to consider that event "recent". The memory plays tricks.
  • So, if faking his own death was part of the plan, are we to assume that Blackwood planned to get himself captured at some point?
    • Yes. Holmes outright implies as much in the movie, where he points out that the murder where Blackwood was caught was downright sloppy compared to the others.


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